Contrary to Noah Rothman’s suggestion that Obama’s accomplishments during his second term are “written in sand,” he has managed to accelerate the coarsening of our political discourse, solidify racial and ethnic divisions in America that were once considered a thing of the past, and destroyed our already rapidly decaying credibility and power in foreign affairs.
Quite unlike his first term, President Obama’s second term accomplishments are, with rare exception, written in sand. They are positioning statements, attitudinal projections, and executive “actions” – not even executive “orders,” which would imply some legal authority – and they are as impermanent as is his administration.
What Mr. Rothman fails to understand is that the tone set by Obama’s pronouncements are every bit as damaging as his all too real destruction of America’s health care system (once the greatest in the world), or his arrogant and vicious crushing of the coal industry.
Praising rappers who preach cop-killing, conspicuously avoiding the funeral of one of the titans of American jurisprudence, visiting a repressive communist dictatorship with no preconditions for the release of any of the thousands of political prisoners they currently hold….all of this, and more….sets a tone for America that cannot be undone by a simple stroke of the pen of the new president on January 20th of next year.
Yes, President Cruz (oh please oh please oh please…) can cancel Obama’s many signing statements and begin to roll back some of the more destructive concrete things Obama has done over the past seven years, but Obama has succeeded in a much more profound way than simply creating a larger and more invasive state. He has set Americans against each other in ways that cannot be easily repaired. He has created a sense of dependency and despondency in many Americans that will require a generation to shift back to our more traditional self-reliant and positive attitudes.
And worst of all, he has destroyed the sense that America can succeed in spite of anything. Are any of us truly confident that we could return to the moon, or build another Hoover dam or battleship or fight and destroy totalitarians on two fronts?
Many of us are not.